The Functions of the Executive: Chester Barnard and the Theory of Organization

In my last semester at the Haas School of Business, I had the good fortunate of studying transaction cost economics (TCE) with the master: Oliver Williamson. He was a wonderful advisor, and although I had already read many of his essays, he guided my more extended readings and helped me gain a better understanding of the fundamental concepts of TCE. I started several ideas with him and finally settled on writing a paper that gave a transaction cost economics account of the bullwhip effect in supply chains. It was a fascinating exercise and learning experience. (Earlier on this weblog, I have written a brief account of the bullwhip effect, investigating it as a consequence of technological specialization and within the context of North's theories on the structual evolution of economic institutions.)

There was one book whose reading Williamson highly recommended to me: The Functions of the Executive by Chester Barnard. That book was first published in December of 1938. I have a copy of its 2002, 39th printing in my hands.

I've written about Chester Barnard and Oliver Williamson earlier, including a brief mention in a piece on Douglass North.

Today and possibly tomorrow, I'm going to extract a short summary of the first part of Barnard's book on The Functions of the Executive.

I think the material is important to anyone who works within a cooperative system, a business organization or any other kind of association.

Comments:

I could not get the details described on the functions of the executive. I was looking for these details so that I can answer the question which says discuss the principles of management as described by chester barnard nad his bibiograph. Please assist

Posted by Vedastus Lyamabumbe on November 07, 2004 at 03:44 PM PST #

This is a very large question requiring a review of the whole book. Please see the note I just posted for some more detail regarding Barnard's theory of organized activity and the executive function. I hope it will help.

Posted by M. Mortazavi on November 08, 2004 at 03:24 AM PST #

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